The annual block party in the height of summer when the fire hydrants open up, there’s a DJ and a dance contest, kids fire water balloons into the air thick with barbecue smoke in the afternoon light.
When we first moved to Bed Stuy the quietness of the block was a revelation. It felt cozy in a way, strangely quiet for New York and friendly.
There is a sense of community embedded in the sidewalks and on the brownstone stoops which feels like an extension of your living space. You meet people who are really from here, their whole lives, and have seen the changes and the ebb and flow of the neighbourhood.
I think what I love about it is how, in contrast to New Zealand, it’s not necessarily the values or common interests that connect people, but more the proximity of living next to one another. No one is building a higher fence or planting trees to obscure their living room and there is a common ground to talk to someone you might not otherwise ever get to know.
It makes me wish more I’d spent time sitting out front of various houses I’ve lived in Dunedin, or Auckland talking to the neighbours or sitting on the front steps just to hang.